The South African writer John Maxwell Coetzee is well-known for references to animals in his fiction, also given the fact that he and one of his well-known characters, Elizabeth Costello, raise awareness of the cruelty enacted on animals. Many studies have been conducted on Coetzee’s animals, but less attention has been placed on the settings and landscapes in which the animals are situated. Hence, this study aims at understanding the role of the landscapes surrounding the animals via an ecocritical approach. The paper focuses on Coetzee’s fiction featuring Elizabeth Costello, namely, The Lives of Animals
(1999), Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons
(2003), Slow Man
(2005), and Moral Tales
(2017) by identifying the animals and by discussing the related settings and landscapes. The research concludes that, despite the presence of several animals, there are almost no references to animals in pristine habitats, that most of the animals are in anthropized settings, and that animals’ and humans’ suffering are hidden in a shared landscape. This understanding is discussed as an ecological message about the interlinkages between the human and nonhuman worlds and between animals’ and humans’ wellbeing, also referring to the animal/human interconnectedness within the COVID-19 pandemic.
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